2020. What a year.

December 22, 2020

A look at some of the most 2020 things we encountered on the middle mile.


It was quite the year, for humans and robots alike. Over the course of 2020, the Kodiak Driver has seen a lot on the middle mile, from extreme weather and complicated construction to the occasional wannabe The Fast and the Furious stunt driver. To close out the year, we thought we’d share 10 tough scenarios the Kodiak Driver saw in 2020.

10. Aggressive driving

Haven’t we all missed a turn? Before flooring it, remember you can always get on at the next entrance.

9. Construction zones

Navigating construction is one of the toughest challenges for autonomous vehicles, as we explored in this post in August. Kodiak’s unique lightweight mapping solution allows our trucks to navigate ever-changing highways and the most complex construction.

8. Emergency vehicle on shoulder

Moving over a lane for a vehicle on the shoulder is the safest thing to do. But it can be difficult to do safely in a crowded construction zone.

Earlier this year we shared how we use simulation to train the Kodiak Driver using a vehicle on the shoulder as an example. Read about it here.

7. Bad weather

Heavy rain challenges even the best drivers, human or robot.

6. A guy walks into… a lane

A construction worker stepped in front of a Kodiak truck. No joke.

This is a classic example of a case where our Safety Driver did the right thing by playing it safe and disengaging the vehicle. We can rely on simulation to test the Kodiak Driver’s capabilities in challenging scenarios like this one.

5. Forced merges

Forced merges in heavy traffic are especially difficult for Class 8 trucks, which cannot speed up and slow down as quickly as passenger cars.

4. Driving without lane markings

Self-driving vehicles use lane markings and other visual cues to place themselves in the world. But when those lane markings disappear, that doesn’t mean the Kodiak Driver can’t keep on truckin’.

3. Yet more aggressive driving

We wouldn’t recommend cutting off a lane changing truck, but the Kodiak Driver handled it just fine.

2. House on a truck

We passed a lot of houses in 2020, but this is the only house that passed us.

1. Too Fast, Too Furious

And here it is, the craziest thing we saw all year: someone passed our truck on the shoulder, at night, going 93 mph.

In this case, our Safety Driver followed protocol and disengaged the vehicle, but in re-simulation we saw the Kodiak Driver handle it just fine.

2020 has had more than its fair share of bumps in the road, but it was an incredible year of progress for Kodiak. We can’t wait to show how far we go in 2021!

Happy holidays, and safe and sound journeys!

Andreas Wendel, VP of Engineering

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